Deputies with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office arrested the man nicknamed the "Squatter on the Square" after the individual was caught in the act of defecating on the grounds of the historic county courthouse in Center Saturday.
"He was pretty regular," said Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell. "He was going at just about the same time every day. He even brought his own toilet paper."
Gary Don Belrose, 65, of Center, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, a Class C misdemeanor. Blackwell said, in light of the fact that Belrose has already appeared before a judge and paid his fines, they are going to add a disorderly conduct charge, so they can bring him back in and have him clean up the mess he left on the courthouse yard.
Blackwell said Belrose's public bowel movements have been an issue for almost a year. The sheriff said that earlier, the human feces and toilet paper was being found in a little courtyard across San Augustine Street from the courthouse. That case was being investigated by the Center Police Department. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office became involved when the suspect started doing his morning business on the courthouse lawn, which is county property.
Although authorities set up cameras to try and catch the suspect in the act, Blackwell said the devices only produced pictures of the man's posterior. As a result, he had one of his deputies stake out the spot where the suspect did his business. Blackwell said the additions to the courthouse lawn came at regular intervals, usually around 4 a.m. in the morning.
The Shelby County Deputy spotted Belrose going to the area where the human excrement was usually found and allegedly caught him in the act. He had toilet paper in his possession.
Blackwell said when the deputy asked Belrose what he was doing, the man simply replied, "Uh … uh … uh." Later, authorities asked Belrose what had possessed him to defecate on the courthouse lawn, and he said, "It just hit me," according to Blackwell.
"We were pretty sure we knew who it was, but we could never prove it until the other day," Blackwell said. "I'd see him running around that part of town when I was going to work out."
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